Gessler puts spotlight on illegal voting

Scott Gessler

Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler said he has turned his attention to illegal voting and intends to keep spotlighting the issue.

“We have moved the needle on this debate” in the state, Gessler told about 60 people at a Western Slope Conservative Alliance gathering Thursday night in the Grand Junction City Council chambers.

Gessler earlier this year garnered headlines — and criticism from some county clerks — when he said more than 11,800 noncitizens in Colorado had registered to vote over the previous five years.

Of that number, Gessler said, 5,000 voted, but he had no way of knowing whether they had obtained citizenship when they cast ballots.

“We know we have a problem in Colorado, but we don’t know the size of it,” Gessler told The Daily Sentinel editorial board Thursday.

Gessler said he gleaned his information by comparing voter-registration rolls to a Division of Motor Vehicles database. He compared driver’s license numbers in both databases to reach his findings.

His efforts to gain more information from state databases such as jury pools were frustrated in the last legislative session, but Gessler said he intends to continue studying the extent to which noncitizens have cast ballots in the state.

He intends to tread carefully, Gessler said, because “I need to understand all the risks in the legal thicket” should he be sued.

To be sure, Mesa County Clerk Sheila Reiner said, her clerks routinely check the DMV database to make sure people are legally in the United States, but the check doesn’t guarantee they are citizens.

“We need good tools,” Reiner said.

Reiner criticized Gessler when he announced his findings and has said elections officials should be allowed to investigate whether they have allowed noncitizens to register and vote.

Gessler, whose job as the state’s chief elections officer makes him most visible, also told the Sentinel he would continue pursuit of providing education to judges across the state in commercial litigation.

A judiciary that’s better schooled in dealing with commercial disputes could be an economic advantage for businesses that might look to pursue or defend themselves in other, more speedy and reliable state courts, he said.


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